Kane senior Carson Whiteman, the son of Steve and Jessica Whiteman, is thrilled to be taking his pitching skills to Gannon University. The talented right-handed hurler recently signed his commitment letter to play at the school.
“I’m just beyond proud. He amazes me. He’s the hardest-working kid I know,” Whiteman’s mother said at Saturday’s ceremonial signing in the Kane High gym.
Dad echoed the sentiment.
“I’m so proud. He’s worked so hard. His hard work is finally paying off and he deserves it,” he said.
Area baseball fans have had the opportunity to follow Whiteman’s success on the field along with his Elk-McKean All-Star team which advanced to the Junior Little League World Series in 2018 and were a step away from reaching the Senior Little League World Series in 2019 where they were two wins away from capturing the East Regional crown.
Whiteman, who is having success with the Wolves basketball team, was unable to pitch at the high school level in 2020 due to the season’s cancellation because of COVID-19.
The strong-throwing, crafty pitcher was able to continue to hone his skills with the Elk-McKean travel team over the summer - a huge benefit according to his mother.
“Elk-McKean was a lifesaver. We got to still have baseball and travel around with them. It was heartbreaking when the high school season was canceled,” she said.
Whiteman’s love for the sport was passed down from his father. The Kane senior has been playing with various travel teams since he was 11 years old. Something he acknowledged has been a big boost to his career.
“To be able to play in other areas against different competition has been nice. Playing against [strong] competition from around the state and in others has helped me improve,” he said.
Whiteman narrowed his decision to pitch at Gannon after being recruited by Walsh, St. John Fisher, and Penn State Behrend.
The Golden Knights are set to embark on its 39-game 2021 season on Friday at Lake Erie. Like high school, the 2020 season was canceled due to COVID. The team is led by head coach Greg Coleman who will be entering his sixth season at the helm. He was a four-year starter at Embry Riddle (1998-2001) while playing second base for three seasons and third base as a senior. He was a two-time All-American and served as team captain during his senior season.
Whiteman, who will major in Chemistry, is thrilled to have the opportunity to pitch for the Golden Knights.
“I think it’s a really good program. They’ve had success over the past couple of years. The coaches were really great welcoming me in. They seem like they really want me in their program,” he said.
Coleman is assisted by Joe Colosi and Nick Leslie. Colosi was a pitcher when Gannon reached 31 wins in 2016 – a Golden Knight record - repeated in 2018.
“I’m excited all my hard work is starting to pay off. I started receiving offers and to finally commit is a good feeling,” the Kane senior who has maintained a 3.96 GPA said.
Wolves head baseball coach Josh Jekielek, who also attended Gannon, feels the Golden Knights are getting a great addition.
“I’ve coached Carson for a lot of years and you can’t ask for a better teammate and better kid to coach. He’s such a hard worker. He’s always the first kid at practice and the last kid leaving. Combine that will all the talent he has and I know Gannon is getting a great kid. I think he’s going to develop even more as a great pitcher,” he said.
Jekielek who is chomping at the bit to get the Wolves back on the diamond along with assistant Mark Kossack, is happy things have worked out for the Kane senior.
“I think it was a big deal for Carson to get it figured out where he wanted to play. It’s always been in his realm that he wanted to play college baseball,” he said while addressing the extra eligibility college players received with the cancelation of seasons. “With the COVID-situation there were some things up in the air that worked against kids in Carson’s group because of eligibility changes. I think he’s going to be a great fit. Gannon is a great school.”
Jekielek feels taking his skills to the next level is also great for Whiteman’s teammates.
“All the kids that have played with Carson over the years are super excited for him. They know how much baseball means to him.”
The Kane High Honors student is anxious to get back to competing at the high school level.
“I’m so glad basketball is going on but at the same time I’m happy baseball is coming up after missing last season,” he said. The Wolves will be playing for a Class AAA District 9 hoop championship. Seeding for the playoffs will be held on Wednesday. Practice for the baseball season is set to begin Monday, March 8.
The Wolves will field a strong team as will the Johnsonburg Rams. Whiteman, who also shined in the infield for Elk-McKean, is looking forward to facing some of his all-star teammates.
“It will be fun to play against them,” he said.
The Kane standout has been keeping his arm limber over the past few months.
“I’ve been getting my arm in shape working with Josh Mitchell at Beimel Baseball in St. Marys. Things are going well,” he said.
Mitchell who assisted Elk-McKean coaches Casey Zimmerman and Mike Porter over the summer will be embarking shortly to spring training with the Minnesota Twins, who picked him up from the Kansas City Royals in December. The strong-throwing lefty is currently slated to pitch in triple-A.
Whiteman is thankful for the wonderful support he has been given by his family. He said his grandparents Paul and Becky Carson have been “a huge part of his life” and have followed him to every game making his journey more special. He has a sister Ava, a Kane High junior, who is also a wonderful supporter.
The Whiteman family is looking forward to watching Carson progress this season and at Gannon. The school’s location in Erie is a big plus.
“We’ll be able to go watch games and follow him the whole way,” dad Steve said.
“It’s just been a great journey and we’re going to follow him everywhere he goes in college,” said his mother Jessica.